Augusta, Ga. Researchers want to help HIV-positive patients live better by understanding why their essentially dormant infection is still wreaking havoc in their mouth.
Even with meticulous dental hygiene, tooth decay and gum disease, as well as infections by yeast, bacteria, and viruses such as human papillomavirus, continue to plague many patients, said Dr. Josѐ A.Vazquez, Chief of the Section of Infectious Diseases at the Medical College of Georgia at Georgia Regents University.
"If we can improve the oral health of these patients, we believe it will further improve their overall health," Vazquez said.
He and Dr. Scott S. De Rossi, Chairman of the Department of Oral Health and Diagnostic Sciences at the GRU College of Dental Medicine, are investigators on a new National Institutes of Health-funded study that will better determine whether the problem is the HIV infection, the antiretroviral therapy or both.
They have joined researchers at Louisiana State University and Ohio State University in collecting samples from the mouths of 440 HIV-positive patients. They are performing sophisticated molecular tests on the samples that should provide a census of the living organisms in the mouth as well as a T-cell count an indicator of the activity level of the immune system then comparing those findings with uninfected individuals.
They also are looking at whether antiretroviral therapy changes the community of oral organisms, called microbiota, by taking a census both before and after therapy starts and by comparing the populations in patients who have oral complications like HPV and yeast, with those who don't.
They are assessing the general health of the teeth and gums as well. "Another big question is, why do these patients have such really bad gum disease and tooth decay," said Vazquez, a principal investigator on the new study that brings $1.5 million in NIH funding to the university. <
|Contact: Toni Baker|
Medical College of Georgia at Georgia Regents University